Meet Our 2019 Alumni

We're proud to present our TOW '19 cohort!

Read on to meet this year's Summer Camp participants.

Hello, my name is Soukayna Ait Hammou.

I am from a small town called Oulmes.

I always used to read a lot, but at The Olive Writers' Summer Camp, I learned I can write, too. My participation was a stroke of luck because I just wrote a short story and some reflections about a photo, and I sent them off. I wasn't expecting to be chosen.

But during the six days of the camp, I learned an incredible amount that will help me to continue writing long after the camp. What I learned in high school was good, but our teachers never focused on the students' individual strengths or on the things that we were good at in order to guide us. I learned a lot at Soukaina HabibAllah’s creative writing workshop, and I will appreciate it for the rest of my life.

I used to think I should sit and wait for the perfect idea to come to mind before starting to write. But at the camp, I learned that's not the way it works. If you see something, you should write about it. If you see someone, if you can picture someone—even if you just see a shoe on the road or a car or a piece of paper—you can write about it. You can imagine many things. Your imagination goes farther than you might guess.

I really appreciated The Olive Writers’ Summer Camp. The creative writing workshop and the other seminars, like the acting class, were very fruitful. I learned many things, like how an actor actually interprets what we write by taking it from the paper and turning it into a real thing, into a character, a moving human being. I also benefited from the translation seminar because I used to read translations, but I didn't pay attention to that fact. Learning about translation theory allowed me to become more aware and I realized that there are so many texts I would like the world to know about, so I would like to work on translating them into English to give those books a second life.

I really hope The Olive Writers program continues to thrive so that other people can have the same life-changing experience as I did. After my experience at the camp, I'm no longer the plain Soukayna who only reads and waits for ideas to come to her, instead I am writing as much as I can and I’m determined to stick with it and finish my stories all the way to the end.


Hello, everyone. My name is Zakaria Zair.

I'm from Casablanca and I study English literature at Hassan II University.

I can now say I am an alumnus of The Olive Writers after attending the Summer Camp. It was such a glorious ride and such a pleasure to meet everyone from the staff members to the instructors and my fellow writers.

The camp was an opportunity for us to get to know people from all over the world and from all across our country. There were people from Mali, from the U.S., and from cities and villages all over Morocco, so there was a lot of diversity. We got to learn many things from the instructors, of course, but also from each other.

At first I was very intimidated and wondered how I would be able to interact with the other people at the camp since I didn't know them, but it happened so smoothly. Our first dinner together was totally fabulous—not only did I have to opportunity to go to a restaurant that I never could have afforded on my own, but I got to do it with a group of amazing people who quickly became my friends. Later, during the talent show, we all danced together and that was a wonderful highlight that I’ll always remember.

For me, when you write, you are releasing the energy that you have inside of you, whether it is negative or positive. Oftentimes, it is negative: we are oppressed and discriminated against. Especially if you feel that way, you might choose to write about particular things, for example, something that is taboo or forbidden, so creative writing provides an outlet that allows people to really express themselves.

Hi! My name is Ghizlane Elguil. I'm 21 years old and I majored in English Studies.

I'm from a small village called Benslimane.

Writing is important to me because it helps me put my feelings into words. Usually when I'm in my regular surroundings, I feel like I'm always oppressed because I don't feel like I have a voice to speak. So, writing is my only refuge, and it is through writing that I can express myself and talk about my worries and all the things I would like to change in our society.

My experience at The Olive Writers' Summer Camp was wonderful and truly exceptional. I never thought it would be as good as it was, but it really exceeded my expectations. I met so many amazing people, and I was really inspired by Mohammed El Wahabi, who created this program, because it’s incredible to know that such a young person was capable of creating such an amazing program and bringing people together to interact and learn.

The instructors taught us many things about reading, writing and translation. They were all so helpful, and I just wish I could return and have this experience all over again.

Hello, my name is Meriem El Akehal. I'm 20 years old and I'm from Kenitra.

I'm a second-year psychology student at Ibn Tofail University.

Writing, for me, is a way to live. Just like painters use colors and mix them to create something beautiful and to express their feelings, writers use words to bring out what is inside of them in a beautiful way.

I am so happy I was given the chance to be part of The Olive Writers' program, which I hope will continue to exist for many more years so that others will be able to have the same amazing experience that we had and to learn the same amazing things we learned.

The thing I was most excited to have learned during the camp was critical thinking. Before the camp, critical thinking was an abstract concept in my mind. I didn't know much about and it seemed quite complicated, but after the critical thinking seminar and after doing some hands-on exercises and having a chance to interact and talk, it was simplified and that was really beneficial for me as a writer and student.

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